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Avoiding Dehydration

While summer and fall bring outdoor sports and fun in the sun, hot, dry weather can pose problems if we don’t pay attention. If you plan to be out in the sun, remember to consider ways to keep hydrated as you play and exercise in this heat. Avoiding dehydration will make the whole experience more enjoyable.

Dehydration occurs when a person’s water intake is less than the water being lost. We lose water through breathing, sweating, and eliminating waste, and the hotter the weather, the faster the water loss happens. The body uses water to transport nutrition and oxygen around the body. When we don’t have enough fluid in our bodies, we start to have symptoms that tell us that the process of water transport is being compromised.

A case of mild to moderate dehydration would include symptoms such as a dry, sticky mouth, fatigue, thirst, a decreased urine output, dry skin, headache, constipation, and dizziness. A more severe case would include extreme thirst, confusion, a lack of sweating, little or no urination, sunken eyes, skin that doesn’t bounce back when pinched into a fold, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat and breathing, and possibly a fever.

Untreated, dehydration can lead to shock. The best indication of potential dehydration is the color of your urine. Light, straw-colored urine indicates good hydration. Dark yellow or amber-colored urine may indicate dehydration. Treat mild symptoms by drinking more fluids, either water or sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade. For severe symptoms, seek medical care. Drink fluids before, during and after exercise to insure safe fun this summer and fall.

--Dr. Kate Kennedy

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